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CULTURAL NEWS
Pastor, Wife Stand Strong After Muslim Attack
04 May 2007

CWNews.com–-ACEH, Indonesia - In the region of Aceh last year, an angry mob set fire to a church that had stood strong for 28 years. The pastor and his wife had to flee through the jungle for safety.

Netty is emotional as she recounts that fateful night when she and her husband were inside their church as angry Muslims poured liters of gasoline on the building and set it on fire.

Her face was covered during television interviewees to protect them from retribution.

“When I heard the Muslims say ‘Kill them, kill them,’ I thought I was dreaming,” Netty said. “I jumped at the back of the house and fell to the ground. I was crying and praying, "Where are you God, where are you God?"

Netty's husband, Luther Saragih, has been the pastor of the Indonesian Evangelical Mission Church since 2003. He says it was about midnight when two trucks and 50 motorcycles carrying more than 100 Muslims surrounded their church building.

“The people were holding swords ready to kill us,” Pastor Saragih said. “But we were astonished when they just looked at us as we passed in front of them. I believe God's angels were there to protect us.”

Pastor Saragih explained that the Muslims became enraged when they received invitations to a revival meeting at the church. Though he denied sending the invitations, police ordered him to cancel the revival gathering.

Despite the police order, 60 Christians continued to meet for prayer.

“The police said the people will be angry if we continue with the fellowship, but I did not see anything wrong if we worshiped God,” Saragih said. “We prayed and read Psalm 23.”

Pastor Saragih and his wife survived the attack by running into the jungle while their church burned to the ground. Netty, who was then three months pregnant, fell several times as she fled. She was hospitalized to prevent a possible miscarriage.

Because of death threats, Pastor Saragih and his wife fled from danger only to find themselves preaching in a much bigger town. Several months later, CBN News met up with Saragih and Netty – and their newborn baby girl.

“At first I told myself I will stop sharing the gospel.” Saragih told CBN News. “I must admit I questioned God for what happened to us. But He allowed me this amazing experience with Him. We did not think we would survive, but God miraculously saved us and our baby, too.”

Because his faith was strengthened by the attack, Pastor Saragih was inspired to attend Bible school. He's now sharpening his evangelism skills.

While the church building in Aceh was destroyed, the congregation continues to hold prayer meetings in their homes while waiting for the completion of a new church building.

“At first, when our church was burned, we were afraid. But later on we realized we should not be afraid because we are followers of Jesus Christ,” said Augustus, an elder of the Indonesian Evangelical Mission Church. “We believe that if we die, because of Jesus, we will live again. We pray for the Muslims, for them to follow Jesus. They did not know what they did. We believe God has a good plan for us here in Aceh.”

These Christians insist persecution will not drive them from their village in Aceh. They intend to stay. They ask believers around the world to pray God will give them the strength to endure this ongoing test of faith.

By Lucille Talusan CBN News

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